After weeding through 30 other teams, there are just two that remain as we get set to make our 2012 NIT Final picks at Madison Square Garden. The No. 3 Stanford Cardinal are all set to try to represent the Pac-12 against the No. 6 Minnesota Golden Gophers from the Big Ten.
NIT Matchup: #6 Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. #3 Stanford Cardinal
Date: Thursday, March 29th, 7:00 ET
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
NIT Odds: Pick ‘Em
NIT TV Schedule: ESPN, ESPN3.com
If you take a look at the history of these two teams and these two conferences in this tournament, it is clear which side you are going to want to take. Stanford has only been here once, and that was back in 1991. To its credit, it did win the game. However, the last time that a Pac-12 team played in the NIT Final was back in 1991 when the California Golden Bears won the title. Meanwhile, Minnesota has three trips to the final of this tournament, winning it in 1998 and 1993 and losing in 1980. The 1998 title was later vacated. Ironically, the loss in 1980 came against the Virginia Cavaliers, who were led by Ralph Sampson. Now, Sampson’s son, Ralph Sampson III, is going to hope to get back on the court for the Golden Gophers, though he has yet to suit up for the NIT this year.
What we know that we are going to be getting out of these two teams is a heck of a lot of defense. It was the defense that shined for both squads in the semifinal clashes on Tuesday night, and we wouldn’t expect to see anything different in this one. The keys are going to be Rodney Williams, Andre Hollins, and Austin Hollins, who are the only true big time scorers for Minnesota. On the other side of the court though, the Cardinal seem to have more options to turn to.
In the end, we think that the Pac-12 really has represented well in the postseason, knowing that the Cardinal are here in the final, the Washington Huskies made it to the NIT Final Four, and the Oregon Ducks and Washington State Cougars have represented well in their tournaments as well. The rest of the Big Ten outside of the Gophers and the Ohio State Buckeyes… not so much… This is a tossup game in every sense of the word, but in the end, we are going to back Stanford to cut down the nets and take home the 2012 NIT Championship.
NIT Free Pick: Stanford Cardinal Pick ‘Em